Hello there-I am Anna and a fortunate equestrian who was asked to be a brand ambassador for Herd of Zebras. I have a story, just like each and every one of us in the herd and my story goes like this: For as long as I can remember, I have loved horses. All things horses. And knew when I had my first lesson for my 6th birthday, that horses would be my life. And my life they are! As a 16 year old, I feel like it can be hard to be relatable. I often hear I am still a kid, I don’t know trials and tribulations, it really isn’t “that bad”, but I have overcome so much in order to continue to pursue my dreams and I am here to tell you all, keep pushing. Do not give up. No matter what. Don’t. At 8 years old I was gifted a Groupon lesson package that led me to my first pony, Noel. Noel taught me all the hard lessons and I will forever be indebted to her. She was the perfect first horse. I spent the next couple years showing on the B circuit in Austin Texas as a hunter jumper. I had a couple different horses during that time but one in particular came along, Ashton the Appaloosa, and helped me learn a new discipline and direction. I transitioned into pleasure horses and spent a couple years showing Appaloosas and gaining as many miles, in as many saddles, as I could. Then my home life took a turn for the worst. We experienced the traumatic death of a child my mom was watching while in her care and it seemed like “staying on track” was becoming nearly impossible. My mom was married and step-dad (my biological dad is an addict and has never been present in my life for more than a visit here and there) really struggled to overcome the death. One thing lead to another and ultimately, they divorced over a series of unfortunate events. My mom and I then packed up, and moved to Wisconsin. With no horses in tow, I thought my riding career was over. It became zero fun and a major stressor. I took one lesson when we came back, oddly enough at the barn I currently ride for, and it just didn’t feel right. I was not ready. Riding and horses triggered feelings of defeat and sadness, and I didn’t want to keep pretending. So I took a break, a 4 year break. Pre-teen and teenage years began to “happen”. I was pushing boundaries, and quite frankly, was nervous about where I would head if I didn’t have a purpose. So, after some lengthy conversation with my parents, we got a rescue horse and I started to channel that energy into riding vs opposing them. And something clicked. I felt it. I was back where I belonged. But a few things were missing-I had no trainer, no place to ride, or no program to follow. I had a horse and a heart. That horse led me to back to my current barn, about two hours from my home. It was a challenge to be at the barn as much as I needed to be and I was also struggling immensely in the small town where we lived. I spent a summer in Green Bay riding and my life was transformed. I knew it would be hard, but I needed to leave home and live closer to my horse. My sanity counted on it. So, at 15 years old, I found myself packing up my belonging and leaving home: my mom, her boyfriend, and my siblings, and moving in with my aunt and uncle in Green Bay to chase my dreams. Some days are hard. Still so hard. But I am where I am meant to be.
The ups. The downs. The in between. It has all been worth it. I spend my time in the barn with my two horses Vinny and Finn and I am preparing for my Junior years of riding with dreams of indoor finals as well as showing my young jumping prospect. I have a lot to accomplish in the next two years, but because I know what tenacity looks and feels like, I will do it. I have an amazing team behind me and the opportunities are endless. I wanted to quit. Many times. But I didn’t. And I can’t. I was born for this sport and will not let adversity overcome me. I struggle with finding and knowing my place, missing my family, wondering where these sacrifices will lead, but I have to keep my eye on the prize and I know, beyond a doubt, I am where I am meant to be. Keep pushing. It will all be worth it. I promise.
For more of my story you can follow me on Instagram: @annamae_equestrian